NJSO Edward T. Cone Composition Institute

The NJSO Edward T. Cone Composition Institute is an unparalleled experience for four emerging composers to have their music performed by the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra and participate in in-depth sessions with industry experts.

Lead by Steven Mackey, the seventh annual Cone Institute will be held July 13–18, 2020. The Institute culminates in an NJSO performance of the composers’ works at Richardson Auditorium in Princeton.

The four composers chosen for this tuition-free institute will participate in daily activities including:

  • Rehearsals of their works with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra
  • One-on-one and group coaching with Institute Director Steven Mackey and guest conductor Ludovic Morlot
  • Sessions on public speaking, music editing and networking skills
  • Feedback from new music industry leaders, NJSO musicians and staff
  • NJSO premiere of each composer’s work in a public concert at Richardson Auditorium at Princeton University

The application process for the 2020 Cone Institute is now open; applications are due by February 14.

Application Information


  • Must be at least 18 years old.
  • Must not have been selected as a past participant of the Cone Composition Institute.
  • Must be available to attend the Institute in Princeton, NJ, arriving July 12 and departing July 19.

The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra and NJSO Edward T. Cone Composition Institute welcome and value diversity, inclusion and equity in all forms. 

Composition Requirements

  1. Composition shall not exceed 13 minutes in duration and must be an orchestral work (no concerto soloists).
  2. Instrumentation may not exceed: 3‐3‐3‐3 woodwinds (including standard doublings), 4‐3‐3‐1 brass, timpani, 3 percussion, 1 harp, 1 keyboard (piano, celeste, or synthesizer) and strings.
  3. Composition must have no prior public performance by an orchestra classified as Group 1 or Group 2 by the League of American Orchestras (search here). Previous performances by conservatory or regional orchestras, or readings by any ensemble are acceptable.

Application Materials

  1. One-page resume
  2. Full score in PDF form
  3. Program notes or a brief description of the piece
  4. Audio representation of the work, such as a MIDI mock-up or live orchestra reading
  5. One letter of recommendation
  6. List of any previous performances or readings of the work (ensemble name and date)
  7. Three bound copies of the score must be submitted in printed hard copy (11 x 17 in. or smaller) using a standard notation program such as Sibelius or Finale. Handwritten scores will not be accepted. Scores and parts must adhere to Major Orchestra Librarians’ Association (MOLA) guidelines.

Cost, Housing and Travel

The Institute is tuition-free and housing on the campus of Princeton University (single room with air-conditioning) and on-campus meals will be provided, if needed. If a selected composer elects not to use provided housing and meal service, no financial remuneration will be made.

The NJSO will reimburse participants up to $250 towards travel costs. Receipts will be required for reimbursement.

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For more information, contact Artistic Operations Coordinator Cassandra Mueller at [email protected] or 973.735.1740.

Learn More about the Institute

Institute Director Steven Mackey

Steven Mackey was born in 1956 to American parents stationed in Frankfurt, Germany. He is regarded as one of the leading composers of his generation and has composed for orchestra, chamber ensemble, dance and opera. His first musical passion was playing the electric guitar in rock bands based in northern California. He blazed a trail in the 1980s and 90s by including the electric guitar and vernacular music influence in his concert music, and he regularly performs his own works, including two electric guitar concertos and numerous solo and chamber works. He is also active as an improvising musician and performs with his band Big Farm.

Mackey’s music has been performed by leading musical institutions throughout the world, including the Los Angeles, BBC and New York philharmonics; San Francisco and Chicago symphonies; Philadelphia and Concertgebeouw orchestras and Brentano, Kronos and Arditti string quartets, among others. He has received numerous awards, including a Grammy Award in 2012 for his album Lonely Motel: Music from Slide.

2020 Conductor Ludovic Morlot

Following eight years as music director, Ludovic Morlot is now conductor emeritus of the Seattle Symphony. His innovative programming encompassed not only his choice of repertoire but also theatrical productions and performances outside the traditional concert hall space, as well as numerous collaborations with musicians from different genres, commissions and world premieres. Under Morlot’s baton, the orchestra released 19 recordings under the Seattle Symphony Media label, received five Grammy Awards and was named Gramophone’s 2018 Orchestra of the Year.

This season, Morlot makes his subscription debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra and returns to the Los Angeles, BBC, Seoul and Bergen philharmonics and Vienna Symphony Orchestra. He has a strong commitment to working with young musicians; this season, he conducts student orchestras at Yale University and the Royal Academy of Music in London, and he returns to the Aspen Festival, with which he has a regular association. In 2019, he led the National Youth Orchestra of China on their European tour, having conducted its inaugural concerts in New York and China two years earlier.

Morlot has conducted the Berliner Philharmoniker, Royal Concertgebouw, Czech Philharmonic, Dresden Staaksapelle, London Philharmonic, Budapest Festival, Tokyo Philharmonic and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. He has appeared at the BBC Proms, Wien Modern and Edinburgh Festivals. Other recent notable performances have included engagements with the New York Philharmonic and Chicago, Houston, Minnesota and Detroit symphony orchestras. Morlot has a particularly strong connection with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and has conducted the orchestra in subscription concerts in Boston, at Tanglewood and on tour.

Morlot was chief conductor of La Monnaie from 2012–14. He conducted several new productions, including La Clemenza di Tito, Jenufa and Pelléas et Mélisande, as well as concert performances in Brussels and at the Aix-en-Provence Easter Festival.

Trained as a violinist, Morlot studied conducting at the Pierre Monteux School (USA) and later in London at both the Royal Academy of Music and Royal College of Music. He is affiliate professor at the University of Washington School of Music in Seattle and was elected a fellow of the Royal Academy of Music in 2014.


The NJSO and Princeton University Department of Music are well positioned to provide emerging composers with a comprehensive Institute experience that will enhance their careers. Over years of reading sessions in which the NJSO has played through orchestral works written by Princeton University Ph.D. composition candidates, the Orchestra and its musicians are experienced in mentoring and advising student composers. Through the NJSO’s commitment to presenting new music, the Orchestra has performed works not only by the late Princeton University professor and composer Edward T. Cone, but also by composers who felt the impact of Cone’s legacy as a teacher.

Mackey—a lauded composer and William Schubael Conant Professor of Music at Princeton University—says: “The NJSO has had a strong relationship with Princeton University composers for years, and we are excited to again partner with the Orchestra for this immersive composition institute. This program fosters emerging composing talent by preparing composers for both the creative and practical elements of composing works for orchestra.”

By the end of the Institute, participants will have gained invaluable musical and practical feedback about writing for orchestra through real-time interactions with Mackey, Măcelaru and NJSO musicians, as well as advice from decision makers in the industry about how to get their music published and performed.

About the Organizations

Princeton University Department of Music

Princeton’s Department of Music is at the epicenter of a musical culture that is broad and deep, reaching from edge to edge of the campus, from the classroom to the concert hall, into the community and from faculty-led groups to those run exclusively by students.

New Jersey Symphony Orchestra

Named “a vital, artistically significant musical organization” by The Wall Street Journal, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra embodies that vitality through its statewide presence and critically acclaimed performances, education partnerships and unparalleled access to music and the Orchestra’s superb musicians.

Music Director Xian Zhang—a “dynamic podium presence” The New York Times has praised for her “technical abilities, musicianship and maturity”—continues her acclaimed leadership of the NJSO. The Orchestra presents classical, pops and family programs, as well as outdoor summer concerts and special events. Embracing its legacy as a statewide orchestra, the NJSO is the resident orchestra of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark and regularly performs at State Theatre New Jersey in New Brunswick, Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank, Richardson Auditorium in Princeton, Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown and bergenPAC in Englewood. Partnerships with New Jersey arts organizations, universities and civic organizations remain a key element of the Orchestra’s statewide identity.

In addition to its lauded artistic programming, the NJSO presents a suite of education and community engagement programs that promote meaningful, lifelong engagement with live music. Programs include school-time Concerts for Young People; NJSO Youth Orchestras family of student ensembles, led by José Luis Domínguez; and El Sistema-inspired NJSO CHAMPS (Character, Achievement and Music Project). NJSO musicians annually perform original chamber music programs at community events in a variety of settings statewide through the NJSO Community Partners program.

For more information about the NJSO, visit njsymphony.org or email [email protected]. Tickets are available for purchase by phone at 1.800.ALLEGRO (255.3476) or on the Orchestra’s website.

The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra’s programs are made possible in part by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, along with many other foundations, corporations and individual donors.

Cone Institute 2019

The 2019 Institute composers included Dan Caputo with his work Liminal, Patrick O’Malley with his work Rest and Restless, Iván Enrique Rodríguez with his work A Metaphor for Power and Bora Yoon with her work The Encyclopedia of Winds. View concert and composer information.

Cone Institute 2018

The 2018 Cone Institute composers were Jonathan Cziner with his work Resonant Bells, Natalie Dietterich with her work Aeolian Dust, Aaron Hendrix with his work Night Train and Brian Shank with his work Into the Rose Garden. View concert and composer information.

Major underwriting support for The NJSO Edward T. Cone Composition Institute is generously provided by The Edward T. Cone Foundation and Princeton University.